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neilestrick

Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 11:44 PM
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Topics I've Started

Long Lasting Vent Ducting

29 November 2016 - 12:53 PM

I've been testing a black thermoplastic vent ducting for more than 2 1/2 years now, and it's held up great. You can get it at McMaster-Carr HERE (link is for 3" but you can get it in any size). It's rated for 250F, so plenty high for kiln venting. I've used it for at least 550 firings and it's still as soft and flexible as the day I installed it, even where it connects down under the kiln. It costs about 4 times more than the aluminum semi-rigid ducting that comes with most vent systems, but it's way more durable and last a lot longer. You can actually step on it without hurting it.


Sponge Holder Pricing

13 September 2016 - 01:39 PM

What do you charge for your sponge holders? I hate making them, but they sell really well. I've been slowly raising my prices this summer, and they're still selling at the same volume, but there has to be a top end. I'm up to $17, but I have a feeling folks won't pay $20 or more. Am I wrong?


Interesting Wheel Pedal Repair

25 August 2016 - 12:46 PM

On Tuesday one of my Thomas Stuart wheels needed repair. The pedal wouldn't respond unless you wiggled the cord. On Wednesday the wheel next to it starting going full speed as soon as you turned on the power switch. It turned out that both needed the same repair, which was not replacement of the pedal guts/potentiometer as I initially thought. Instead, the problem was the cord, specifically right where it goes into the pedal. The plastic cord grip nut at that location puts a lot of pressure on the wires, and over the last 12 years wore them out. I couldn't tell specifically what was happening, but they were clearly fraying or shorting out. Anyway, I simply cut out that section of the cord, spliced the ends of the 4 wires, and hid the splices inside the pedal. The cord is now a few inches shorter, but the wheels are up and running again.


Replacing Kiln Power Cords

12 May 2016 - 11:53 AM

There's often talk here on the forum about replacing power cords on kilns. This may be because the prongs on the cord don't match the outlet, or a longer cord is needed. It seems like a simple thing, but there are a few things you need to look for:

 

1. If it's a new kiln, replacing the cord on a new kiln may void the warranty unless it's done by an approved technician or with a cord from the manufacturer. True, it would be tough for them to ever find out, but it could happen if you need a tech in the future, and karma can be a real bugger. Plus it's usually easier to replace the wall outlet than change the cord. Also, changing the power cord to one with a different plug configuration or length length may void the UL listing (if the kiln has one), which may affect how your insurance company feels about the kiln. In all cases, you should check with the manufacturer first before making changes.

 

2. Make sure the new cord is rated for the same amperage as the old cord. Too small and you'll have a major safety issue on your hands.

 

3. Make sure it has the same number of prongs. Single phase kilns usually have 3 prongs- two hots and a ground. 3 phase kilns have 4 prongs- 3 hots and a ground. Some single phase kilns also have 4 prongs- 2 hots, a neutral and a ground. You cannot change this! Never snap off a grounding prong! It is very dangerous to fire a kiln that is not grounded.

 

4. Make sure the cord is rated for 105C/220F. This is the one that everyone overlooks. Most power cords you can get at the hardware store are only rated for 90C, which could overheat.

 

5. Wire it up properly. That means putting the hots, ground and neutral in the right places, as well as using the proper strain relief to hold the cord tight in the control box. Make sure all the connections are good and tight!

 

6. Building your own cord is often the best way to go, especially if you need a longer than normal cord. SEOOW type cords are wonderfully flexible and easy to work with. They can be purchased online from McMaster Carr or other sellers. You just have to attach the appropriate plug to the cord, which isn't all that difficult. I have found that plugs from McMaster are pretty pricey, so I usually get the plug from Ace, Lowes, etc. If ring terminals are required for the kiln connection, I recommend using high temp terminals. If the old wires have heat resistant sleeves on them, you can reuse them on the new cord if they're in good condition. Otherwise get new sleeves.

 

Happy wiring!

 

 

 


Bartlett Genesis Review

04 May 2016 - 11:45 AM

It's here! I got my new Bartlett Genesis kiln controller today. I still haven't had a chance to go through all the diagnostics info yet, but I did install it and set it up for a glaze firing with a cooling cycle, which it is firing right now.

 

Out of the box I was disappointed with how small the screen is. I thought it would be bigger. However, after using it for a few minutes it didn't bother me at all. It's plenty big and the 'buttons' are easy to use. The screen and entire panel has some sort of protective overlay that protects it. It feels a little odd since I'm so used to the feel of a phone touch screen, but I get that it needs to be very durable in a studio environment. The screen is very responsive.

 

The system for setting up a firing is a little different than the controllers we've used in the past, but it's still very simple and intuitive. From the home screen you press 'Load' and select which type of firing you want to do, either glaze, bisque, glass or custom. Then from home home screen you push edit to make changes to the program. You have the usual choices of cones and speeds, as well as a cooling cycle. The cooling cycle is full drop to 1900F, then 150 per hour to 1500F. At this point that cooling cycle cannot be changed, but I spoke with Bartlett and they're open to changing that or adding in a piggyback system where one of the 12 custom programs becomes the cooling cycle. They have actually been very receptive to feedback about programming improvements. So for now if you want a custom cooling cycle, you'll have to do it as part of a full custom ramp program.

 

For my firing today I just recreated the fast glaze program to cone 6 in a custom user program, with my own cooling segment added to it. Filling out a custom program is incredibly simple because it shows all of the segments on the screen all at once. You can add and delete steps as needed. Very nice. You can store 12 user programs with up to 32 segments each, so those of you that do super fancy firings (glazenerd, I'm talking to you) can do anything you can dream up. You can also put in a name for each program, so you don't have to keep a list hanging on the wall.

 

During the firing, the screen shows all 3 thermocouple readings as well as the current set point for the ramp. I really like this since before you would have to scroll through each reading separately.

 

Over all, I think it's a really great first version of a touch screen controller, especially for custom programs. Is it worth $329 to replace an old controller? That's for you to decide. Is it worth $125 to upgrade on a new kiln? Absolutely, especially since more features will be added in the future. It's Wi-Fi enabled, so software upgrades can be done easily. Bartlett said there's also talk of a phone app that will communicate with the controller, but there's a lot of liability issues related to that feature that must be dealt with before it become a reality. Currently, if you want external control then you can invest in Bartlett's KISS software.